Dancing days are here again: BRB in Elite Syncopations


A host of eccentric characters flirt, dance and vie for the limelight in MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations (1974), a ballet that brings together comedic flair and Scott Joplin’s ragtime music. At a previous revival, we had paired up with Birmingham Royal Ballet to cover those eye-catching psychedelic costumes by Ian Spurling, a big favorite over here.

This time, we asked BRB’s dancers to play “caption this photo” with us and they responded, imagining what characters like the Stop Time Rag Girl, the Bethena Waltz Suitor and the Alaskan Rag couple are thinking or saying to each other during the ballet. With many thanks to BRB and in particular to dancers Céline Gittens, Tyrone Singleton, Tzu-Chao Chou, Yvette Knight, Lachlan Monaghan, Brandon Lawrence, and Delia Mathews, we leave you with a pop culture homage to this perennially pop ballet:

All photos: © Birmingham Royal Ballet


Elite Syncopations is part of the upcoming ‘Penguin Café’ mixed bill which also includes MacMillan’s ‘Concerto’ and David Bintley’s ‘Still Life at the Penguin Café’. This mixed bill runs from 27 to 30 September 2017 at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

The ballet also returns as part of a special programme, ‘Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration’, this autumn at the ROH, performed by dancers from BRB, plus English National Ballet, Northern Ballet, The Royal Ballet and Scottish Ballet.


We started The Ballet Bag in April 2009 with the mission to prove that ballet is not stuffy, old fashioned and inaccessible; that it is quite the opposite: relevant, fresh and topical. With the aim to Give Ballet a New Spin we try to show it under a different light. When writing our capsule biographies, ballet fact cards, review roundups and commentary on social media, we cross it over with other art forms and cultural references (pop culture, cinema, rock music – ie. other things we love!).

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